At Heller Orthodontics, we believe that a healthy smile begins from day one. That’s why it’s important to not only instill within your child the responsibility of taking care of his or her teeth – it’s also important to give your child the proper orthodontic care and treatments if necessary. As your trusted Laurel and Bethesda, MD orthodontist, we encourage you to bring your child in to see us for a visit at the earliest convenient time.
When Should My Child First Visit An Orthodontist?
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that a child’s first visit to the orthodontist should be by the age of seven. The reason for this age is because that’s when the adult molars typically have erupted and the front teeth are beginning to emerge. This is the earliest chance we have to examine the alignment of the teeth – especially the teeth’s front-to-back and side-to-side relationships. This will also allow us the chance to make sure that the mouth is large enough to accommodate all of the teeth.
It’s important to recognize that an early screening doesn’t necessarily mean early treatment. Even if there’s an orthodontic concern, many times we’ll just simply monitor your child’s growth patterns and progress until we determine when the most opportune time to begin treatment is. This will allow us a better chance to achieve the best results for your child.
Conditions That Early Treatment Can Correct
Early treatment is most effective because the jaw hasn’t fully developed yet. Many problems are easier to treat during this period; when a child’s natural growth processes are taking place. By waiting too long, a more complicated treatment (or even surgery) may be needed to fix the problem. Some of the problems early treatment will fix include:
- Crossbite – This condition is where the upper teeth close inside the lower teeth. To treat this condition, we can use a device called a palatal expander. This device will gradually and painlessly widen the upper jaw.
- Severe crowding – This occurs when the jaws are too small to accommodate all of a patient’s teeth. In order to help the adult teeth erupt properly, we can either use a palatal expander or perform tooth extraction.
- Severe underbite – Underbites are caused by the lower jaw growing much larger than the upper jaw. This can result in serious bite problems. Orthodontic appliances such as braces and headgear can be used to correct these problems.
- Protruding teeth – Teeth that are sticking out or protruding (especially front teeth) are more easily prone to chipping and fractures. They can also cause image problems for a child. Braces are used to correct this problem as well.
Other Benefits of Early Treatment
In addition to fixing bite problems, early treatment can also curb bad habits.. Certain habits can be detrimental to the development and function of your child’s teeth, jaws, and mouth. Some of these habits that we can use orthodontic treatments to correct include:
- Thumb sucking – This is a natural reflex in most babies and toddlers, though it typically goes away between the ages of two to four. If this habit persists much longer, the pushing of the thumb against the front teeth can cause the teeth to shift and the jaws to change shape. This is called open bite, which will impair speech.
- Tongue thrusting – Tongue thrusting is a behavioral pattern where the tongue protrudes through the incisors. This can occur during speech, swallowing, or other activities. Like thumb sucking, this can also lead to open bite.
- Mouth breathing – This is an abnormal breathing pattern where the mouth always remains open and passes air straight to the lungs. This may cause the upper and lower jaw to grow abnormally.
Contact Your Laurel and Bethesda Orthodontist Today!
If you have any questions about our early treatment methods, please feel free to contact us at Heller Orthodontics. If you’d like to schedule an appointment with us, we encourage you to fill out our appointment request form. Alternatively, you can reach us by giving us a call at one of our convenient locations. Our Laurel office phone number is (301) 490-2882, and our Bethesda office phone number is (301) 654-5433. We hope to see you soon!
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